Another green revolution needed, says Kashempur

Bandeppa Kashempur  

Special Correspondent

Expect a farmer-friendly budget: Minister

Country should learn to manage its stocks well: expert `India exported grain at a high loss and imported at high cost'

Bangalore: Minister for Agriculture Bandeppa Kashempur, who spoke after inaugurating an international seminar on sustainable agri-food systems, used the occasion to stress the achievements of his Government on the eve of the budget.

Farmers, who got loans at 4 per cent in the last budget, could expect an extension of the scheme, besides many other farmer-friendly announcements in the budget to be presented on Friday, he said.

The Minister was speaking at a seminar organised by University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Iowa State University, Institute for Social and Economic Change and USAID. Issues of food and nutrition security were important in the changing world economic scenario, he said.

India needed a "second green revolution" with an emphasis on soil health, water management and affordable credit, he added.

G.K. Prabhakar Shetty, Director of Research (UAS), said the idea of sustainability had gone beyond soil and water conservation, and now included issues of food security and employment generation. More than 40 per cent of those involved in agriculture were not inclined to continuing farming, he added.

Delivering the keynote address on "Food security and sustainability of agricultural production," Sardar S. Johl, president of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, said India should learn to be self-reliant and manage its stocks well.

India had historically "exported foodgrains at a high loss and imported at high cost."

"It is not that the supply of foodgrains in the country satiates the nutritional needs of society. Demand remains muted because of lack of adequate purchasing power," Dr. Johl said.

It was a matter of concern, he said, that while a large section of the population lacked access to food, the country exported 35 million tonnes of food between 2001-2005.

Dr. Johl also expressed concern over the fast depleting ground water level and soil degeneration, especially in Punjab which is the grain bowl.

Water was depleting at an alarming rate of 70 cm per year without any effort at recharging while soil was suffering "technology fatigue", he said.

Citing Cuba as a model of sustainable development, he said the country had built its agriculture from scratch after subsidies from the Soviet Union ceased.

The country adopted a back-to-basics approach and used oxen, natural compost, natural pesticides and beneficial insects.

This "organic revolution" had worked and the per capita calorie consumption in Cuba today was 2,600, he said.

"The situation is alarming but options area available. What we need is political will," he added.